Professor David Karoly says the evidence of climate change is clear. Photo: Craig Abraham
Maurice Newman is chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council. He must have thought that December 31 was April Fool’s Day when he wrote an opinion piece in The Australian headed “Crowds go cold on climate cost”.
He once again revealed his opinions on climate change science when he wrote “the scientific delusion, the religion behind the climate crusade, is crumbling” and “Australia, too, has become hostage to climate change madness”.
Tony Abbott’s top business adviser Maurice Newman says there is no evidence that climate change policies are needed. Photo: Rob Homer
His piece is a mix of common climate change myths, misinformation and ideology. While Mr Newman is welcome to his opinions, his writing reveals his sad misunderstanding of the facts about climate change.
As Upton Sinclair wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
Fortunately, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt and the Australian government say they accept the science of climate change, as do the Australian Labor Party and the Greens.
The key conclusions on climate change science from the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society of London and the US National Academy of Science have been confirmed with even greater confidence by the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in September 2013.
- There is no doubt that the climate system has warmed over the past 100 years and continues to warm.
- It is beyond reasonable doubt that human influences, through burning fossil fuels, industrial activity and land clearing, have been the main cause of the observed global warming since the mid 20th century.
- Continued emissions of greenhouse gases from human activity will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system.
- Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr Newman writes that “global temperatures have gone nowhere for 17 years”, but the global average surface temperature has warmed over the period 1997 to 2013, ocean heat content has increased significantly, and Arctic sea ice extent has declined, all showing clearly the continued warming of the climate system.
Australia has just set a new record in 2013 for the hottest calendar year temperature averaged across the whole country, unprecedented in more than a hundred years of instrumental observations and outside the range that can be explained by natural variability alone.
He also writes “when necessary the IPCC resorts to dishonesty and deceit”, but none of the many independent inquiries in the US and the UK into scientists involved in the IPCC have found any evidence to support these claims.
Unlike Mr Newman, leading international energy and economic organisations, such as the International Energy Agency and the World Bank, have accepted the science of climate change and released reports recently on the opportunities for business and industry around the world to transform to a new sustainable, low-carbon economy and away from the old fossil fuel driven economy.
Indeed, Mr Abbott, Mr Hunt and the Australian government have accepted that action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Australia is needed because it is in Australia’s national interest as part of global action to minimise dangerous climate change.
I would not choose a person who believes that the Earth is flat to advise Australian shipping or airline businesses on how to plan routes to travel around the world. It is clearly not sensible to have a person who believes that climate change science is a delusion as leader of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council.
Mr Newman has contradicted the Prime Minister and argued against the government’s commitments to take action to fight climate change by reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
David Karoly is Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Melbourne and a member of the Climate Change Authority, which provides independent advice to the government on Australia’s emissions reduction targets, and other climate change initiatives.